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  • Megan McAuliffe

As gender equality unravels, it's time to get our hustle on

Updated: Mar 10, 2021

“Across the globe, women earn less, save less, hold less secure jobs, are more likely to be employed in the informal sector. They have less access to social protections and are the majority of single-parent households. Their capacity to absorb economic shocks is therefore less than that of men.” Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women

There’s the pandemic we know about, which is taking loved ones and forcing school closures and lockdowns, and then there is the ‘shadow’ pandemic, the economic fallout which is undoing all the precious progress made towards gender equality.


Globally, women’s job losses due to the pandemic are 1.8 times greater than men. In the month of September 2020 in the United States, 865,000 women left the workforce – four times as many women as men. And in Australia, 235,000 women have become unemployed since April 2020.


There are many reasons women have been hit particularly hard during the pandemic: the impact of restrictions on hospitality and retail, and the travel industry, sectors with higher percentages of women, and increased domestic duties due to school closures.


The consequences will be far reaching


According to one report, most countries have failed to protect women from the negative economic consequences of the pandemic, and 'the multiple burdens that suppress women’s economic achievements won’t ease until governments implement recovery plans that are sensitive to gender.'


To stop gender equality moving back into the dark ages, we need more men to become advocates, championing women in the workplace and taking on more domestic responsibility, with employers providing flexible working hours for men.


If governments continue to ignore the repercussions the pandemic has had on women, and men don't focus on overcoming gender disparity at home and in the workplace, one report predicts that the impact of Covid-19 will have far reaching consequences, 'by 2030, 33 million fewer women would find employment in a gender-regressive scenario'.


Turning crisis into creativity


But, despite the chaotic forces of our current times, there is hope, women are adapting and finding side hustles to ‘catch the wave’ of business opportunities.


The gig economy is on-demand, with more than one-third of US workers (36%) participating in the gig economy, either through their primary or secondary jobs, according to one report.


Why gigging is good for women?


Otherwise known as the ‘sharing economy’, the gig economy gets its name from the music industry, and being hired for a gig, or specific project. At its core are app-based platforms that share out bits and pieces of work.


The growth of the gig economy has meant greater work flexibility that benefits women. And with companies changing their traditional staffing models and turning to independent contractors and freelancers there is greater opportunity for women to contract their services out.


So what’s your side hustle?


One of the things that could be stopping you from joining the gig economy is a fear that you don’t have something to offer? And you wouldn't be alone. It can seem like freelancing is for other people with more skills than you.


But, you just need two things:-


- To be able to do something that others may not be able to do, or want to do

- To know how and where to sell yourself


If you need help getting started, there’s been an influx of business coaching websites and freelance platforms over the years, some dedicated to helping women get back to work.


Check out Australian startup Gem Freelancers, which offers business tools and templates, business coaching and learning, while connecting female freelancers with potential employers.


Hannah Martin of The Talented Ladies Club has been coaching women for over ten years in business development, her website has a plethora of inspiring information and courses on all things to do with womens' business to help you on your way.


And, if you want to brush up on some skills, or get some inspiration for a new skill, there’s plenty of free courses that are not time consuming. Lynda.com, a LinkedIn learning platform, offers a free one month's trial with an extensive selection of courses.


So rather than watching policy makers twiddle their thumbs on gender equality, getting your side hustle on may be the best way for women to recover from the economic fallout of Covid-19.


As the late advocate for women's rights Shirley Chisholm said, ‘if they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair!’

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